At the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, we are always advocating for Ohioans to do what they can to be more energy efficient.

At the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, we are always advocating for Ohioans to do what they can to be more energy efficient.

It's the simplest way to reduce the monthly costs of your utility bills.

Even with all of the efforts you take to be as efficient as possible, there still could be items in your home that are driving your utility costs up unnecessarily.

Many household appliances and electronics still consume power even when they are off. Computers, video game consoles, digital clocks, televisions, refrigerators and cell phones all fall into this category when plugged in.

These products are often referred to as using vampire power or standby power. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a digital cable box with DVR capabilities uses more than 40 watts of electricity when it is turned off.

While most devices use much less electricity while in standby mode, combined together they can account for as much as 10 percent of your monthly electricity bill.

Realize that some standby power is necessary. It allows for monitoring temperatures in refrigerators, allows use of remote controls, keeps your digital clocks running and charges cellular phones. Modern conveniences likely wouldn't be as convenient without it.

With that said, most standby power is wasteful because of inefficient AC adapters.

Take a look around your house. How many appliances or electronics do you own that are using power 24 hours a day? Check for items that use a remote control, have an external power supply like an AC adapter, have a digital display, contain a battery charger or have a soft-touch keypad for clues of which items are using vampire power.

The best way to find out exactly which items you own that use vampire power is to measure them with a watt-hour meter. The Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory also has tested and created a table on its Web site, standby.lbl.gov, of several products and the amount of power they use when on and in standby modes.

While you might not be able to cut out all standby power in your home, there are a few things you can do to lighten its effect on your wallet. To cut the amount of standby power your home is consuming, unplug products that are not regularly used. You also can attach several similar items, like computer equipment, to a power strip and turn it off when you are away.

Remember to keep your cable box and Internet modems on a different circuit so you do not lose the connection.

Armed with an understanding of what products are energy vampires and how much each uses, you can be an even more efficient energy consumer in 2009.

Janine Migden-Ostrander is the Ohio Consumers' Counsel.